The bidding war for the issue where a tied-up Veronica tried to throw a bowling ball at Superman’s dead body was intense.

§ January 4th, 2021 § Filed under question time § 12 Comments

So, how’s the new year been going for you so far? …Er, really? Ooh, that’s too bad. Well, let’s see if I can cheer you up with some good ol’ comics blogging as I finish up your questions this week before I start into looking at your 2020 predictions.

And let me remind you again that I’m still taking your 2021 comics industry predictions. This year I finally remembered to submit my own predictions into the mix, so we can all laugh at how badly I do a year from now. Plus, I took a screenshot and posted it to the Twitters so no one can accuse me of cheating (via editing my post after the fact) in the unlikely occurrence I get a hit!

And now, THE QUESTIONS:

Damien puts the dog down to ask

“Hi Mike, I was wondering what your favourite comics lie is. Which completely untrue rumour pleases you the most?”

You know, I’ve been thinking about this one ever since you posted it, Damien, and…boy, I’m not really sure I can land on a specific one. I mean, the supposed Shadow special was one (discussed in this ancient linkrotted post) since it turns out there was no way that was ever actually happening. And then there was the occasional “Marvel Buys DC” rumor that…honestly, I’m not sure if that was ever taken seriously (my main exposure to it being an April Fool’s headline on Comic Shop News decades ago).

My problem is that I tend to be very skeptical about anything I hear word of mouth, so obvious rumors and hearsay tend to just go in one ear and out the other and I don’t retain any of them. HOWEVER, maybe I can counter this onslaught of boringness on my part by relating to you one of the earliest comic book rumors I recalled hearing in person.

This was very early on, just as I’d discovered the very idea of comic book stores, and long before I forged the chains I wear in life. I was at a store, not the one I would later be employed at, buying Swamp Thing comics, natch, when one of the employees told me “oh, yeah, I heard the Swamp Thing series is about to go bimonthly.” The significance of that being, of course, “bimonthly” was the step just before “getting cancelled,” which bummed me out a bit.

Now I have no idea if that was true at the time or not…could very well have been, as Saga of the Swamp Thing at that point was at about issue 18 or 19 or so, and knowing from what former boss Ralph had told me, at least at his shop sales were in the dumps. Of course Alan Moore would come on as writer with issue #20, and along with Steve Bissette and John Totleben and others, the book’s fortunes would turn around, never be demoted to bimonthly status, and last a good long time.

So that’s the rumor that had the biggest impact on me early on, which I remembered for probably obvious reasons. Probably not as interesting as “I heard Stan Lee once TPed Mort Weisinger’s house,” but what can you do.

• • •

Thom H. ahsks

“What is one change you’d make to the comic book industry right now to improve it?”

No more pointless relaunches with new #1s. Hey, got a new creative team coming onto the Avengers? They start with issue #78. Don’t like it, tough cookies. Let’s rebuild some consumer confidence that the titles they’re reading won’t just be cut down at the drop of a hat and reintroduced with a likely too-expensive new first issue. C’mon, customers are getting really tired of that shit.

• • •

Matthew Murray calls me on the carpet with

“You did a bunch of posts a couple of months ago about intercompany crossovers after I asked about them, but I think you promised one more post about them that you never got around to?”

So Mr. Murray is talking about this series of posts (1 2 3) and I swear to God I haven’t forgotten. I just…had an idea for a fourth post in the series and just never sat down to hammer it together. As a hint, it’s going to be more about the crossover events within the companies, tying together disparate elements of their titles that weren’t really of a shared universe kind of thing and making them meet each other anyway. Like, your Total Eclipses and your Crossroads and yes, your Doomsday Clocks. I think the main issue was that I never got around to pulling some of these out of what remains of the Vast Mikester Comic Archives to refresh my memories a little. And I’m not sure I have the right angle on this yet, anyway.

I do promise to get to it this year, honest!

• • •

skyintheairwaves flies in low with

“Hey Mike! If you could create a line wide crossover for Marvel, what would your idea be?”

Huh. Well, look, it’s going to be Man-Thing centric, of course.

As I’m sure I don’t need to tell any of you, Man-Thing was created by an unnatural amalgamation of science and magic to protect the Nexus of All Realities, located in the Florida Everglades in which ol’ Manny resides. Anyway, some bad guy comes along and tries to take over the Nexus and use it for nefarious means, requiring Man-Thing to team up with all the various characters of the Marvel Universe and everyone comes together to stop this dude, whoever it may be (maybe that demon Thog who used to pester Man-Thing? Or was he another version of Mephisto?). Journeying into different realities and alternate Earths, you know, all that jazz.

So the upshot is that somehow Man-Thing is restored back to his normal human form, and the big twist is that the magics of the Nexus, which require a guardian, transform one of the Marvel heroes into the new Man-Thing. Of course, it’s only temporary, and Ted again becomes Man-Thing once the powers-that-be at Marvel decide enough’s enough. …I vote for Night Thrasher. I mean, what’s he been up to, lately. That way the new Man-Thing can ride around on his kick-ass skateboard.

• • •

Robcat asks the purrfect question with

“Have you ever picked up a comic and felt that way about a new (to you) character (or artist or writer) where you knew you needed more right away? Or maybe as a store owner you’ve seen it?”

Not to keep going back to the same well…but I think it was Alan Moore. His Swamp Thing. blew me away, and I had to get my mitts on more Moore. Not that there was a whole lot available in the U.S. market at the time Saga of the Swamp Thing #20 came out, but plenty certainly followed and I kept my eye out for all of it.

Oh, and Swamp Thing just in general, but that was even before Moore. But I don’t think I needed to tell you that.

I can’t think of specific examples with customers, but it’s not uncommon for someone to buy a comic or graphic novel, then have them show up the next day looking for more of the same. And of course I’m happy to provide!

• • •

Adam Farrar closes in with

“What’s the oddest/most obscure character/thing someone has told you they’re a completist for? Earlier this year you helped me get an issue for my Blackwulf collection but there’s gotta be weirder wants. (I need for there to be weirder wants.)”

Nope, you’re the weirdest. What’s up Adam, you weirdo.

Nah, I’m just kidding. My old pal and former employee Rob used to collect Archie comics that featured bowling on the covers, and there were a lot more of those than you might have imagined. Had another customer who didn’t care for Superman and thus collected Superman comics where he was dead or dying on the cover. Yes, he had a field day when “The Death of Superman” came out.

Then there was a guy who would pick up lots of different comics and ask me about each of them “are the ladies tied up inside this comic?” Aaaand…hey, to each his own, man, let your freak flag fly.

• • •

Chris Bowden…um, bows…in my den? with

“As we’re around the same vintage when it comes to the early days of our comic appreciation – what Bronze Age characters From the big 2 have you always liked, but feel they didn’t receive the spotlight They perhaps deserved? I’ve always liked Ragman from DC in his original incarnation as a sort of blue collar Batman, I hate the recent mystical role he’s been place into. From Marvel I’ve always loved Jack of Hearts as a powerhouse that never received much respect, I suspect the artists just didn’t want to draw that costume!”

Ah, you’d get along well with fellow Jack of Hearts aficionado Andrew.

As far as other Bronze Age-y characters go…I always kind of liked Marvel’s Scarecrow, the mystery of whom really captured my imagination after reading this comic as a seven year old Mike. I know he popped up a few times here and there around that period, but I would have been down with an ongoing Scarecrow title, particularly in the style of the Marvel horror books at the time. I mean, just imagine, Giant-Size Scarecrow.

I looked him up on the ol’ Wikipedia to see what was up with him, and apparently he did show up in Doctor Strange and such later. However, because there’s a Marvel super-villain called “Scarecrow,” they changed his name to “Straw Man,” which is some bullshit if you ask me.

Another character I’d pick is the Grim Ghost, who had a whole three issues from the ill-fated Seaboard/Atlas publishing line in the ’70s. There was a brief revival in later years, but aside from Spawn basically snagging his origin, not much has been done with him. In fact, I’d say a lot of ’70s Atlas could use some refurbishing and revival, which might happen, I’d imagine, if this frankly bonkers movie deal results in anything. (And also beyond Atlas’s The Scorpion becoming Marvel’s Dominic Fortune.)

• • •

@misterjayem tweets

“How ya feelin’, Mike?”

Well, I had another laser treatment in my left eye on the 31st, getting it in there before the insurance turns over. That didn’t feel great, but my eye’s doing better now. And that wisdom tooth extraction from a couple of weeks ago really threw me for a loop…friends, don’t wait ’til you’re in your fifties before getting that wisdom tooth yanked, because boy does it not want to come out. My jaw still aches, but it actually does feel a lot better than it did.

Otherwise…doing okay! Thanks for asking!

• • •

Definitely Not Mike Sterling conveniently inquires

“Any fantastic promotions or incredible deals currently being offered at Sterling Silver Comics?”

Why, thank you for asking, Definitely Not Me, Mike Sterling, the Person Writing this Very Post! I am still offering my Cheap Comic Bundles (30 for $20, 75 for $45), details for which you can find right here on the store’s Instagram account. Help me clear out some backstock, keep the funds coming in during our delightful COVID times, and get a bunch of cheap reading! (Prices include domestic shipping, please inquire for shipments outside the U.S.)

Also, honestly, that wasn’t me who posted that. But if I’d thought of it first, I probably would have! I’m not too proud.

• • •

DONE AT LAST! Thanks everyone who contributed a question, and hopefully you found some satisfaction with my answers. I always appreciate you folks chipping in and helping keep me on my toes with various topics I may not have come around to writing about on my own.

Next week, I’ll probably start getting into the 2020 predictions, so prep yourselves for that. Thanks for reading, everyone, and I’ll see you later this week.

12 Responses to “The bidding war for the issue where a tied-up Veronica tried to throw a bowling ball at Superman’s dead body was intense.”

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    The Scorpion isn’t the only Atlas character to make his way to Marvel in a slightly altered form. David Anthony Kraft took his creation Demon Hunter, reversed the colors on his costume, changed his name to Devil Slayer, and teamed him up first with Deathlok and then with the Defenders.

    The great thing about the question “are the ladies tied up in this comic?” is that you can always answer “yes” and be right more than half of the time.

  • Daniel says:

    “Have you ever picked up a comic and felt that way about a new (to you) character (or artist or writer) where you knew you needed more right away? Or maybe as a store owner you’ve seen it?”

    For me it was Darwyn Cooke. By the late 1990s and early 2000s I had been at the periphery of comics fandom for about a decade. Still checking in from time to time, I loved the medium, but aside from the occasional book that caught my attention (“It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken” by Seth; “City of Glass” by David Mazzucchelli), there was very little that the medium was offering that interested me. But when Cooke’s debut, “Batman: Ego” came out, it just blew me away. Visually, narratively, stylistically, tonally, thematically, it had everything that I had been looking for in comics but had rarely found. It captured an aesthetic that perfectly distilled what I wanted but so rarely found: Dynamic, well-designed, Toth-like simplicity, and unapologetically cartoony in its look. And all of that combined with narrative sophistication that never became pretentious or self-absorbed.

    As soon as that book came out I immediately wanted more. So when it was followed up by “Selina’s Big Score,” his work on the relaunched “Catwoman” title, and then his magnum opus, “DC: The New Frontier” (still my favorite comic of all time), I had been hooked back in.

    Sometimes I look back in wonder at how explosive Cooke’s debut had been in those first three or four years. It was so unlike anything else out there at the time. And because he came to comics relatively late in his professional life (after having had careers in graphic design and animation), his initial work was fully formed and had none of the awkward growing pains of other new talent. Every project was a gem. I miss him and his work.

  • James S Kosmicki says:

    The Nemesis Group – who owns the Atlas rights currently, are also putting out novels based on the characters – some, like Targitt, even written by the original creators of the comic characters. Three so far that I know about: Targitt, Bog Beast and an unpublished Ditko character called Wrecage. The link is to the one I feel you’d care for the most…
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08DM93MV6/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Wait, Man-Stalker is now Targitt’s “costumed sidekick?” That gives me another “I’m so old that…” line. I’m so old that I can remember when they were the same person.

    “Targitt” was perhaps the most extreme example of Atlas’s characteristic instability. It ran for only three issues, and each issue presented a distinct version of the character. The first issue was an attempt at emulating cops’n’robbers movies, with a hero who emulated Bullitt’s name and look, carried Dirty Harry’s weapon, and engaged in a story that combined “The French Connection” and “The Big Heat.” (He also shot an unarmed man in the head, a scene presented as comedy. He suffered no legal or professional consequences for this, despite committing the murder in a public place, in front of several witnesses.)

    With the second issue, the title became “John Targitt, Man-Stalker,” and he now wore a mask and tights, for no very good reason. The tights had a bullseye on the chest, presumably in order to help the bad guys aim. With the third issue, the tights were replaced by an exoskeleton that gave him super-strength and made him nigh invulnerable. Naturally, at this point he stopped bothering himself with ordinary criminals and went after a mad scientist instead.

    I presume that, if there had been a fourth issue, he would have become a werewolf.

  • Adam Farrar says:

    They should have printed more than one copy of “Bound Me and Bowling and Superman’s Corpse.”
    Thanks Mike. I feel better now. Bowling? What sick freaks!

  • Thom H. says:

    1. Thanks for answering my question. And hear hear!
    I’m already paying $5/issue for books that I like. I hate paying more than that, especially for a completely arbitrary reason.

    2. I always feel SO SAD when I think about the Shadow Special that never came out. I loved that series so much.

    3. Grant Morrison was my “have to have everything” writer as soon as I set eyes on Doom Patrol #50 (my first issue).

    4. Glad to hear you’re feeling better!

  • Dave says:

    Years ago at a WonderCon, I asked Kyle Baker why The Shadow (the greatest unknown comic of the 80s) had been cancelled. I wondered if it was because Conde Nast objected to what they were doing to the character.

    He told me that it wasn’t anything like that, but simply lousy sales.

  • Thom H. says:

    The cover of the final issue (The Shadow #19) hints at the series’ poor sales, while poking fun at similar marketing tactics from other comics at the time. Gotta love that Helfer/Baker sense of humor.

    I bet the “creators’ schedules are prohibitive” line from DC was just a cover for “it wasn’t selling well enough.” A nice way to save face for all involved.

  • Snark Shark says:

    Chris: “Jack of Hearts as a powerhouse that never received much respect, I suspect the artists just didn’t want to draw that costume!”

    It WAS quite the complicated costume!

    Mike: “I’d say a lot of ’70s Atlas could use some refurbishing and revival”

    The Atlas stuff id pretty cool- I particularly like the Destructor, essentially a combo of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and mainly Daredevil. AND drawn by Steve Ditko!

    Turan: “Scorpion isn’t the only Atlas character to make his way to Marvel in a slightly altered form. David Anthony Kraft took his creation Demon Hunter, reversed the colors on his costume, changed his name to Devil Slayer”

    Devil Slayer is another cool, odd character. I remember him appearing in The Defenders.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    ..and the Destructor was another of the characters who underwent a fundamental revision in the final issue, shifting from “guy who likes to put on tights and punch people” to “defender of an underground race.”

    My favorite example of this last minute wave of change was in the final issue of “Planet of Vampires” (a series that combined the premises of “Planet of the Apes” and “I am Legend,” while swiping the title of a Mario Bava movie–perhaps the greatest fun to had in an Atlas comic was counting all the things it was imitating). All but one of the good guys was killed, and the lone survivor responded by killing all of the vampires and then blowing up the planet. You might assume that the writer knew that this was the end and was tying up all the loose ends, but actually the story ends with him blasting off into outer space while the caption promises an exciting new adventure in the next issue.

    Maybe he was going to team up with Man-Stalker.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    …”actually the story ends with him blasting off into outer space”…

    Obviously, by “him” I meant the protagonist of the story, but I constructed the sentence so that it seems to mean the writer. Sorry.

  • Eric Houston says:

    Speaking of the guy who wanted comics featuring tied up ladies — there was a collector back where I grew up who very vocally collected any cover that featured the hero kissing a woman’s feet.

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